Why Martin Truex Jr. doesn’t wreck people to win

Martin Truex Jr. discussed “winning clean” after securing his second victory of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season at Martinsville Speedway.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. became the first driver to win multiple races in the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season this past weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Truex became the fifth winner through five races in mid-March by winning at Phoenix Raceway, where he had never previously won in 30 starts. After starting 0 for 27 at Martinsville Speedway, he has now won three of the last four races there.

Truex won Sunday afternoon’s rain-delayed 500-lap Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 500 around the four-turn, 0.526-mile (0.847-kilometer) oval in Ridgeway, Virginia after passing teammate Denny Hamlin with 16 laps remaining.

Team owner Joe Gibbs was just praying that the two drivers didn’t take each other out.

Truex went on to win the race by 1.972 seconds over Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott, the only other winner at “The Paperclip” in the last four races there, after Elliott passed Hamlin, who led a race-high 276 laps, for second place a few laps later.

Fortunately, with Truex being the man in second place, Gibbs should have been able to breathe a little bit easier, given Truex’s tendency to race clean and not put anybody else’s race in jeopardy for his own sake.

In fact, it’s something that Truex’s longtime friend and former Cup Series driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. has made fun of him for.

After the victory, Truex went onto CBS Sports Network’s The Jim Rome Show to discuss winning clean, as opposed to knocking other drivers out of the way like several others are known to do.

“I think it’s just the way I’ve always done things. I’ve been able to fortunately make it work. Been with some great teams, great equipment. This team this year, I feel great about them. I feel like if you race people the right way, they, for the most part, return the favor. And if you don’t do it the right way, then you’re going to get it back.

“I think in the long run, being a considerate driver…I race aggressive, I race hard, but I don’t — I try not to at least, and sometimes we all make mistakes, right? — But I try not to just make dumb moves and knock a guy out of the way for third or fourth or fifth or whatever, or early in the race, things like that. So just try to be respectful, and I feel like for the most part I get that back in return and it pays off.”

In addition to Truex noting that driving the way he drives tends to pay off in the long run when it comes to earning that respect from fellow competitors in the form of being raced the same way he races them, he noted that he still remembers certain things that he doesn’t like about the way some of them drive.

“You know the guys out there that when they’re behind you, there’s a chance they do something stupid, or they push the issue early in the race. You see guys, certain guys, do things differently. And pretty much everyone on the race track that we race with, you understand their tendencies.

“You understand, in certain positions, what you think they might do ahead of time, and you kind of race accordingly and make decisions accordingly. I think it definitely comes around. Drivers have good memories. I can remember a lot of things over the years that have happened, and drivers don’t tend to forget too easily.”

The full interview can be found here.

For the second straight week, Truex is set to attempt to win for the third time in the last four races at a track where he had never previously won. He won both races at Richmond Raceway in the 2019 season, and that is where the series is scheduled to run this Sunday, April 18. The Toyota Owners 400 is set to be broadcast live from the track on Fox beginning at 3:00 p.m. ET.

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